The owner of a Pittsburgh-area gun store saw his business's Facebook page shut down and is losing thousands of dollars in sales each day.
Erik Lowry learned Facebook had deactivated the page for Pittsburgh Tactical Firearms, in McKeesport, when fans started calling Friday.
“You know, most pages get warnings. We didn't even get a warning. It was just gone,” Lowry told WTAE Pittsburgh.
Lowry believes Facebook shut him down over an article about his store, the accuracy of which he disputes. The article, published on Vocativ, has led to the removal of at least five Facebook pages on which guns were given away in contests or sweepstakes.
Facebook told Vocativ the pages are considered ads and therefore violate the site's terms.
“Our Ad Guidelines prohibit promotion of the sale of weapons and the Ad Guidelines apply to Pages with commercial content on them,” a company spokesman said. “Ads may not promote the sale or use of weapons, ammunition, or explosives."
But Lowry thinks his page was within the guidelines.
“People were thinking if you won, I was just going to send a gun to your front door. It just doesn't work that way,” Lowry said. “If you win a firearm from us, you come to the store, and as long as you pass a background check, you walk out with your gun."
The rules apply to winners both in Pennsylvania and from out-of-state.
Pittsburgh Tactical Firearms had planned its largest giveaway yet for Sunday, including an AR-15 rifle and protective gear amounting to $10,000, but with the shutdown, it was "a dud."
Lowry said updates pushed to his page's 27,000 followers, usually about updates in in-store stock, earned him between $500 and $1,000 every day, plus he has spent around $10,000 through Facebook's advertising system.
"I am very adamant about following rules. I'm not the type of person who will stick it to the man," Lowry told the Blaze. "[It] at least should have been a courtesy for someone to contact us and say 'this is why we did it."
Lowry said he plans to contact the NRA Monday for legal council.